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Michigan Tech Research Institute


Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have become a major health and environmental concern in the Great Lakes. In 2014, severe HABs prompted the State of Ohio to request NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) to assist with monitoring algal blooms in Lake Erie. The most notable species of HAB is Microcystis aeruginosa, a hepatotoxin producing cyanobacteria that is responsible for liver complications for humans and other fauna that come in contact with these blooms. NASA GRC conducts semiweekly flights in order to gather up-to-date imagery regarding the blooms' spatial extents and concentrations. Airborne hyperspectral imagery is collected using two hyperspectral imagers, HSI-2 and HSI-3. Hyperspectral imagery is necessary in order to conduct experiments on differentiation of algal bloom types based on their spectral reflectance. In this analysis, imagery from September 19, 2016 was utilized to study the subpixel variability within the footprint of arbitrary sized pixels using several analysis techniques. This particular data set is utilized because it represents a worst case scenario where there is significant potential for public health concern due to high concentrations of microcystin toxin found in the water on this day and the concurrent observational challenges to accurately measure the algal bloom concentration variability with a remote sensing system due to the blooms high spatial variability. It has been determined that the optimal spatial resolution to monitor algal blooms in the Great Lakes is at most 50 m, and for much lower error 25 m, thus allowing for greater ease in identifying high concentration blooms near the surface. This resolution provides the best sensitivity to high concentration areas that are of significant importance in regard to human health and ecological damage.

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© 2019 Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of International Association for Great Lakes Research. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Journal of Great Lakes Research


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